Discover Historic Muchalls Castle
Situated on high ground, offering a spectacular view of the North Sea, Muchalls Castle lies on the historic drovers’ road between Aberdeen and Stonehaven known as Causey Mounth. The castle also overlooks the now peaceful Aberdeenshire valley known to be the northernmost point of the Scottish Highlands invasion by the Roman army.
The lower course of Muchalls Castle was built in the 13th century and remains intact, with the castle being built upon this foundation. The construction of the castle was started by Alexander Burnett of Leys and completed in 1627 by his son, leading Covenanter and Scottish Parliament representative for Kincardineshire, Sir Thomas Burnett, First Baronet of Leys. Further additions were made by members of Clan Burnett, resulting in the Muchalls Castle as it stands today.
The interior décor includes intricately designed and beautifully preserved plasterwork ceilings dating back to 1624. These unusual works of art include the heraldry of the Clan Burnett blended with religious iconography. The fireplace of the Great Hall of the castle is another interesting feature of the castle’s interior as it is flanked by large figures of Egyptian origin, with the King James VI coat of arms above it. The fireplace is so large that a grown man could walk upright into it, and was designed to accommodate a device referred to as a ‘Laird’s Lug’ (Lord’s ears) used by the laird to listen in to conversations taking place in the Great Hall from his suite located above – a common practice at the time.
The grounds of the castle include terraced gardens using a series of dry-stone walls, designed and established in the early 17th century. The western lawn nearest the castle has undulating patterns created by stonework below the ground, which was also a feature used in 17th century garden design. A magnificent and rare weeping elm tree, measuring twelve meters in height and believed to be one of the oldest specimens in Scotland, dominates the castle’s southern lawn.
Muchalls Castle has been home to several generations of the Burnett family and also played a role in the religious reformation of Scotland as the site where influential Covenanters met to discuss matters relating to this tumultuous time. Renowned Scottish historian and author, Nigel Tranter, noted in his writings that this majestic L-style structure is one of the most interesting castles in the northeast region of Scotland – and many would agree.